Atlas Moth

(Attacus atlas)




Facts about this animal

The Atlas Moth has a wingspan of 25-30 cm and the largest wings of all moths covering about 400 cm². Males are smaller and are provided with broad, comb-like antenna. The body is disproportionately small compared to the wings. Fore and hind wing have a similar pattern being reddish-brown with black, white, pink and purple lines and a typical, triangular scale-less window bordered in black. Forewings have protruding apical edges. The underside is paler. There are many described subspecies.

The caterpillar of the Atlas Moth can reach a length of 11.5 cm and is blue-green with long, dorsal processes. Young caterpillars are covered in a white pruinescence. Besides the prolegs of the last abdominal segment there is a large green spot surrounded by an orange ring on each side.

Adults of the Atlas Moth do not feed because their mouthparts are stunted. They therefore live just about two weeks. Caterpillars feed on leaves of different plants like Muntingia calabura, Annona murricata, Cinnamomum verum, Nephelium lappaceum, Psidium guajava, Sandoricum indicum and Citrus sp.

Females release pheromones through a gland at the end of the abdomen to attract males which can scent them over several kilometres downwind by means of their large feathery antennae. After copulation females lay the 2.5 mm large egg to the underside of leaves of the food plant. Caterpillars hatch after about two weeks. Fully grown caterpillars spin a 7-8 cm long cocoon among some leaves and attach it with a silken string to the twig. Within the cocoon the chrysalis metamorphoses for about four weeks before the new Atlas Moth emerges. The Atlas Moth flies throughout the year but is most abundant from November to January.

Did you know?
that in India the light brown and robust silk of the cocoon of the Atlas Moth is used, known as Fagara Silk, but is of little economic importance? that Atlas moth cocoons have been used as purses in Taiwan?


Name (Scientific) Attacus atlas
Name (English) Atlas Moth
Name (French) Atlas
Name (German) Atlasspinner
Name (Spanish) Mariposa atlas
CITES Status Not listed
CMS Status Not listed



Photo Copyright by
Marcel Burkhard



Range Southeast Asia, Southern China, India, Malay archipelago and Indonesia.
Habitat In tropical and subtropical highland forests.
Wild population Unknown
Zoo population 144 reported to ISIS (2008)

In the Zoo

Atlas Moth


How this animal should be transported

Eggs of the Saturnids like the Atlas Moth are usually sent in plastic tubes, plugged with cotton and wrapped in an ordinary envelope.


Find this animal on ZooLex


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Why do zoos keep this animal

The Atlas Moth can be used for education to show the maximum size a moth can get. It will not fly off as quickly as other moths or butterflies do. It is also used to make people aware of habitat destruction and species decline.